The Benefits of Swimming

The Benefits of Swimming

Guest Post by David Holt.

 “I feel most at home in the water.  I disappear.  That’s where I belong.” – Michael Phelps, Olympic Gold Medalist.

The silence that comes when your head disappears under the water must be similar to that of someone instantly losing his hearing.  The hullabaloo and commotion from above vanishes and a slow and gentle murmur begins.  The chaos has been replaced.  A slight taste of chlorine comes onto your lips and those goggles, which squeeze your eyes closer together reveal the bottom that stretches boundlessly into the distance, occasionally pickled it is with a dangling pair of legs.

Swimming has been a sport that can be engaged in whether it is winter or summer, so long as you have a body of water.  In the hotter summer months it can strip away those sticky sweaty days and awaken your mind, and in colder times the warm water can help you workout and stay in shape when others are outside running trying to stay warm or having given up entirely with the idea of exercise.  Before entering a person can feel chilled to the bones  and apprehensive about the impending chilly waters, but after thirty lengths and a nice hot shower that same soul can leave with his spirit high, his blood warm and a few calories burned, all in time to see that jogger trot past gasping for breath with chilblains and chafing thighs still some distance from that warm shower you have just embraced.

The benefits to swimming are numerous, but to name a few it is a ‘low’ impact sport, one doesn’t have to fear a twisted ankle or a knackered elbow.  Your joints are not pulled, shattered and broken to pieces like those who play football or rugby.  A certain footballer was known for having such appalling knees that he was unable to train with his teammates during the week, instead he spent several hours working each necessary muscle, with no weights, just the resistance of the water.  Saturday would come, he would play and after ninety minutes his knobbles would have ballooned in size leaving him almost unable to walk.  Another week in the pool and he would get himself ready for the next week’s match.  He was, up until his retirement, still considered the best central defender England has produced for a number of years.  The only way he could maintain his fitness was through swimming.

A study found those who started swimming after eight weeks had increased their muscle density by roughly 24%.  It doesn’t focus on one body part like those cartoonish men in gyms with arms as large as tree trunks and legs as small as twigs.  In the gym tiredness can envelope you as soon as you pick up a weight, but swimming can relieve depression, anger, aid in circulatory problems and increase self-confidence leave you with more vigour.  Pushing yourself for up to an hour can easily work off around four-hundred calories.  Unlike jogging, which in winter can leave you struggling desperately for breath like you’ve been smoking Belgian tobacco, swimming in a pool can help your respiration with inhaling warm moist air, of course making sure the pool is clean is paramount.

Swimming doesn’t require you to buy any outlandish equipment.  You’re not even required to have goggles, you can breaststroke your way from one end to the other.  In Korea you are required to wear an unflattering hat that’s quite a bugger to get off afterwards.  It is also a universal sport, something that can be enjoyed solo are amongst friends, but it is especially great fun with kids who will splash and lunge around in the water for hours, long after their parents have grown tired.

Swimming’s benefits mentally can be just as astounding as its physical.  One or two hours under the water stimulates brain activity more than if you were running for the same amount of time thus helping with the creating of new brain cells.  The release of endorphins, feel good hormones, also becomes abundant the longer you spend in the pool.  It can help you regulate your breathing into a meditative state, which will lower your heart rate and blood pressure and allow your brain to categorize and deal with those negative thoughts that can seem to be forever laying themselves on your doorstep.

There can be no limit to the number of benefits you can achieve with going for a dip.  In Busan there are a number of swimming pools recommended.  Sajik Pool is a publically run place that has a fifty-metre pool for 3,000 won.  It a little more upmarket is the Grand Hotel in Haeundae, which also boasts of a fifty-metre pool, but is a little more expensive at 8,000 won.  There are dozens of other smaller twenty-five-metre places, some with large saunas and spas attached to the side.

So, no matter what this winter has install for you, why not workout your mind and body.  It might not turn you into a great Olympian swimmer with twenty gold medals, but it’ll do wonders for your health.

Guest post by David Holt. You can read more of his work here 

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Dreamy Vanilla Cupcakes with Lemon Icing

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Dreamy Vanilla Cupcakes with Lemon Icing I too have succumbed to the pixie-dream-girl contagion. Not only did I buy the cutest pink and blue apron, but I spent all Saturday morning baking cupcakes with my girlfriend. The benefit to you … Continue reading

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Things I Like Thursday – Lush

Vegan Bathroom Products – Lush

Ever since I discovered that the BodyShop had been bought by L’Oreal, notorious for their animal-testing, I can’t bring myself to purchase from them anymore. Peta has assured the public that the Bodyshop will continue to sell products free from animal-testing and in some cases free from animal derived ingredients, but why give L’Oreal any money? Even Aveda, a brand that was almost entirely vegan (apart from some products containing lanolin or beeswax) is owned by Estee Lauder who routinely test on animals. It can be difficult to live an ethical lifestyle with the plethora of deceptive marketing.

If we disapprove of the ethics of major corporations, should we boycott all of their brands? This is particularly difficult in the case of L’Oréal, the biggest cosmetics company in the world. Their brands includes everything from natural hair care staple Garnier to the 100 per cent vegan hair care brand Pureology.  The solution is Lush.

Lush offer a range of vegan soaps which smell so good you’ll want to eat them up and you probably could as they contain natural ingredients.

My favourite soaps are the sumptuous smelling Lust, Sultana and the more masculine Sea Vegetable. They also have an amazing range of shampoo bars and conditioners which look and feel similar to a soap bar  yet last longer than liquid shampoo minus the packaging.

As I’m not a heavy make-up user, I tend to visit Lush for lipsticks and soaps, balms and scrubs, and of course beautiful gifts.  Just be sure your purchase is vegan as a few items contain lanolin or honey. Items which are vegan are identified with our beloved .

Unfortunately Lush are an England based company so their products travel long distances to make it to our stores, probably no further than other international brands but certainly more than I’d like. Ideally, vegan products would be made and distributed locally, but as this is not the case I believe it is better to buy ethical products than local ones.

Busan Lush Location

You will find Lush on the 7th floor of the Lotte Shopping Centre in Centum City (subway #206), next to Shinsegae. It’s tucked away in the corner out of view of the escalators.

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Busan Biennale 2012

Art Gallery

Thesis finished (high five) I was been able to enjoy my weekend outside the confinements of my office. On Saturday I visited the Busan Museum of Modern Art to take in some contemporary Art at the Busan Biennale 2012.

Installation art was a popular form of expression at the museum, and why not, the three-storey building is huge. I had never seen the walls so full of art or the space so well utilized.  I loved the fantastically dramatic and eerie piece Deer Horns, but ignored the tragically obscure cords and wires in a pile on the floor exhibition (I’ll spare you the photograph).

Spray paint on canvas. One of several constructed in a similar fashion with different protagonists, but this was my favourite.

RAAAAA!  Angry computer felt monster.

When I saw this print I had an overwhelming desire to grab my crayons and 5-year old self to color the whole thing in.

For me, the highlight was a collection of photos showing Korean people protesting over environmental abuses. The anger at corporate pollution and natural exploitation resonates with the people of Korea as the effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster begin to be felt here as well as in Japan.

This photo was taken from a wall in Kangjung on Jeju-do. It calls for peace in Kangjung waters where whales and dolphins frequent. Recent plans to resume whaling in South Korea, under the guise of ‘scientific research‘ has put these sentient beings in danger.


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Green {Vegan} Saag Recipe

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Fight your flu this fall with this warm, filling and nutritious meal. It’s much easier than it looks and the fragrant flavour perfectly offsets the soft texture. At my place, it often serves as a throw-together-last-minute dinner. In fact, although spinach … Continue reading

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30-day Vegan Challenge Giveaway

30-day Vegan Challenge Giveaway

Hey guys. I hope Autumn is treating you well and that you’re getting excited about all the pumpkin treats and root vegetable dishes of winter. What better way to welcome World Vegan Month than with a Giveaway. That’s right, November is the month to spread vegan awareness and inspire change and it’s only two weeks away!

Here’s what you’ll win. A free subscription to the 30-Day Vegan Challenge from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. It’s set up to be a 30 day transition to becoming vegan, but you have access to all the resources for eternity! There is so much to learn, even if you’re the most educated veg-head. The combination of video, text, audio and e-mails (optional) give you the perfect package without being overwhelmed. The website gives you access to  sumptuous vegan recipes, some simple and some more advanced. You’ll receive the famous Vegetarian Food for Thought podcasts in which Colleen discusses the blissful, beautiful and sometimes complicated trails of being vegan. There’s great advice on shopping, reading labels, traveling, being a teen vegan or vegan mother, and useful advice on how to respectfully speak to people who disagree with your decisions. [I’ve listened to that one more than once.]

Here’s a taster.

You’ll have access to all this information indefinitely so you can search for that Mexican chocolate cake recipe or improve you knife skills long after the ’30-days’. Create your own profile and talk with others on the forums. Ask for help or share your wisdom with others. Or you can do nothing but read the stories for inspiration. It’s all there for you to use as you choose.

How do you win? Simply visit VeganUrbanite on facebook, post your personal reason for being vegan {if you are already} or why you’d like to become vegan, be sure to Like the VeganUrbanite facebook page and your in to win. Write as much or little as you like.

My reason to go vegan grew out of concern for the environment but soon developed into a desire to eat only whole natural foods. I now include animal exploitation and cruelty as my main reasons for living a vegan lifestyle. There are so many reasons to stop eating meat and they are all valid. So what are you waiting for? Enter now.

Sorry, competition is now closed. 

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Korean School Successfully Experimenting With Vegetarian Meals

Young-jin High School in Daegu offer vegetarian meals

After recording and blogging about Korea’s middle school lunch program, I was chuffed to read this article from the Hankyoreh originally published in Korean, in September. I get a real kick out of hearing how people have benefited by eliminating meat from their diet. It’s especially exciting as, although the Korean diet consists of a lot of vegetables, the broths, stews and mains are usually made from animals. This article has be republished with permission. 

By Yang Seon-ah, staff reporter at the Hankyoreh

“It’s like a miracle. I’ve been suffering from atopy for 16 years but the symptoms completely disappeared in 103 days. I’m going to live as a vegetarian eating brown rice for the rest of my life,” Cho Min-hyuk, high school senior in Daegu, said with great confidence.

Atopy (atopic syndrome) is a syndrome characterized by a tendency to be hyperallergic. A person with atopy typically presents with one or more of the following: eczema (atopic dermatitis), allergic rhinitis (hay fever), allergic conjunctivitis, or allergic asthma. Patients with atopy also have a tendency to have food allergies.

Cho, 19, had tried a variety of treatments for his atopy, but none had been effective. He has worn long pants in Daegu’s hot summer to hide the scars left by scratching ever since elementary school, when he heard his female classmate call his scars “disgusting.”

But since his atopy symptoms disappeared, Cho has worn short pants and not worried about what other people think of him. With the itchiness gone, his grades improved because he can concentrate better. He sleeps well.

“I want to use my vegetarian experience to study nutrition or life science in university,” said Cho.

It was the school meals at Cho’s Young-jin High School in Daegu that totally changed his life. The school has provided 34 students with vegetarian lunch and dinner from April 2nd to July 13th. Those students’ parents had to sign an agreement promising to provide their kids with vegetarian meals at breakfast and on weekends.

This project started when Daegu Metropolitan Office of Education selected Young-jin High School as a pilot case for vegetarian meals. Daegu Green Consumer Network of Korea (DGCNK) joined the project, which was supported by many experts like neurosurgeon Hwang Seong-su (also known as the ‘Vegetarian evangelist’, Kyungpook National University Medical College professor Lee Duk-hee and Kim Sung-hee of Daegu Catholic University.

Instead of the typical white rice, participating students ate a mixture of brown rice and brown glutinous rice. The side dishes were made up of a variety of vegetables and tofu. 22 teachers also participated in the project and shared a separate ‘vegetarian cafeteria.’

Principal Hong Sung-tae, who has been a vegetarian for 10 years, strongly supported vegetarian meals at school. Young-jin high school had already been providing students with vegetarian meals once a week.

Principal Hong said, “The majority of the students want to eat meat after having vegetarian meals, but the school has been using a support program for vegetarians.”

The school invited experts to give lectures to students and parents on the effects of and correct ways to consume vegetarian meals. Teachers encouraged students: “If you’re able to stop yourself from eating what you want for more than 100 days, that means you can overcome any difficulties you might encounter in the future.”

All 34 volunteers succeeded in sticking to exclusively vegetarian diets for 103 days and the school awarded them with certificates. The school opened an essay contest on the participating students’ experiences with vegetarianism and had the students’ experiences reflected on their grade reports.

Cho said, “I really wanted to give up during my second week because the itchiness had actually gotten worse. But I was able to overcome my temptation to eat meat or bread because my friends and teachers were with me. Listening to experts’ testimonies also helped.”

Hwang Jeong-seob, who lost 11kg (about 24 pounds) during the project, said “Before this project, I thought having a vegetarian diet meant eating only vegetables. But I was deeply touched when Doctor Hwang said that being a vegetarian means eating everything except meat, fish, eggs and milk.” For Hwang Jeong-seob, this was a revolution of perception.

With the collaboration of the Office of Education, school, parents, teachers and regional experts, the participants’ health greatly improved. 25 students lost weight and 27 students lost body fat. 23 students experienced a drop in their cholesterol levels. Two students who suffered from atopy, five students who had acne, two students who suffered indigestion and 1 student who had a fatty liver all recovered.

Professor Kim Sung-hee from Daegu Catholic University’s department of Family Medicine, said, “The students are so much healthier now after only three months, and I believe the vegetarian diet contributed to this change.” Six of the students who participated in the project continue to bring vegetarian lunches even now that the project is over.

Principal Hong said, “Through this project we were able to confirm that a vegetarian diet improves students’ health and concentration. I hope Korean society accepts the wishes of the minority with different eating habits.”

Presently, Gwangju and the Jeolla provinces are showing interest in vegetarian meals. Koh Yong-seok, representative of Practice Vegetarianism with a Love of Life, said, “300 school in Gwangju, 30 schools in North Jeolla and some schools in South Jeolla are providing vegetarian meals once a week. The school board needs to recognize the importance of vegetarian meals and have the will to carry them out. A proper understanding of vegetarianism is crucial for such progress.”

Translated by Yoo Hey-rim, Hankyoreh English intern

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Vegan Booty 31-day HallowLEAN Challenge

Happy International Vegetarian Day

It’s finally autumn and the weather is perfect for running and playing outdoors. To celebrate the changing season, October’s month of vegetarian love and to celebrate myself, I’ve signed up to participate in the Vegan Booty 31 day HallowLEAN challenge. The initiative is simple – exercising at least 30 minutes a day, everyday.

This is what I’m aiming for….

Hey guys you’ve gotta aim high. The biggest problem is time, isn’t it always? I expect that the facebook group will offer support, encouragement and probably a ribbing too if I fail to post my workout. And there’s still time to join up if you’d like to look back on this month as one of progress and achievement.

To show how serious I am, I got a body analysis at the gym which reveals (to my dismay) my measurements compared to the ideal measurements for someone my height. I don’t take this too seriously, because I’d be in the corner weeping if I did, but I think it’s good to have concrete figures to look back on when I’m svelte. And that’s the point for me, to build muscle.

You may wonder how it’s possible to be curvy on a vegan diet. I do too. I was a more circular shape as a teenager and I can only guess that my body is less forgiving than I have been. I don’t diet but I do workout regularly. I mean, I just ran a marathon a few weeks ago and failed to loose a pound!

I’m going to take this seriously and give it a good shot.

I’m keeping a diary of my activities and planning on sharing some pictures and my final scan once the month is over. Wish me luck!

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White Bean and Basil Hummus

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It’s a nice change from regular hummus and has a particularly thick and creamy texture, not as nutty as chickpea hummus but equally as good. Serves: 1 1/2 cup Total Time: 5 minutes Ingredients 1 can cannelini or northern white beans, rinsed … Continue reading

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Hyosowon – Vegetarian Buffet

Hyosowon – Centum City         CLOSED

11.30am-3.30/5.30 – 9.30pm            051) 742 5585

This delicious vegetarian buffet in located in down-town Centum City near Asia’s largest mall, Shinsegae, and the two enormous BEXCO exhibition centres. It sells itself as a well-being restaurant, one of many to crop up in Busan recently. Each person receives a packet of grains (?) to aid in their digestion. I can’t say much for its taste or effectiveness, but the food they serve is pretty good.

For W13,000 you get an array of salad, some faux meat, grilled vegetables and a variety of rice and soups. The food derives its inspiration from traditional Korean dishes such as bibimbap, chiigaes and jap-cha. You can also find bread and spaghetti. It’s obviously healthy and nutritious food and so filling you ought to be cautious of your portion sizes.



At Centum City Subway exit 11 walk straight (with your back to Shinsegae) and you will pass MOMA art store and Citibank. At the large intersection you’ll spot Starbucks diagonally across from you. Hyosowon is in that building on the second floor. Enter the building to the left of Starbucks.


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